Archives for posts with tag: cross

the passion of the ChristSimply put, we don’t deserve to receive the benefits of Jesus’ passion. The actual events point to this and our experience now reveals it again. As the disciples squabbled among themselves about who would be the greatest, Jesus humbled himself and washed their feet. As the disciples fell asleep, Jesus was agonizing in prayer, sweating drops of blood on their behalf.

As Jesus was facing a mock trial, beaten, and scourged; his disciples at best denied him and at worst hid themselves in fear. As Jesus bore their sins on the cross, they remained silent or hidden. Jesus – alone – faced the judgment of the world and sin.

Romans 5: 6 says, sin had made us all sick and weak. When Christ died, he died for those unable to worship, unable to give honor or devotion to the Lord. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

“But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8) When we were without passion, God shows His passion for us. Don’t ever think God (Jesus) dies for your potential good. A passion-less person has no potential to offer, little less be realized.  Neither did Jesus die for the unrecognized good you already possess.

Don’t kid yourself. You’re not all that.  But, Jesus is and more.

Even while the friends closest to him were betraying and denying him, Jesus still moves forward to the cross. Even while the system is rigged against him, Jesus is still resolutely and obediently moving towards Golgotha. Even while, nobody gets it, Jesus makes a new covenant in his own blood and sacrifice.

The promise that drives his passion? “…he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge (of the Father), my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53: 10 – 11)

christcrucifiedHow did He go to the cross? Was it willpower that got him there? That was part of it but it was more than that. The Bible tells us Jesus was willing and able to go to the cross because of the joy that was set before him.

How does a woman bear the labor pains of childbirth? When she’s done, she’s holding her baby. Isaiah 53 says, it is the joy and satisfaction of “justifying many” that will make the pain worth it for Jesus. That joy, knowing he would be satisfied with the result of his labor on the cross, allowed him to endure to the end.

Isaiah 53 adds another important aspect of Jesus’ work – the mindset he carried. “He shall see (of) the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53: 11 KJV) Jesus carried himself as a righteous servant.

This is the description the Apostle Paul calls us to have along with Jesus in Philippians 2: 5 – 8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who,being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The joy, the exaltation, being seated at the right hand of the Father is coming but the mindset that begins and ends the journey is the mindset of a servant.

Yes, how did Jesus do it? How did he accomplish all that  he did for us on the cross? He kept the joy set before him, the knowledge and satisfaction that he would justify many. He kept the mindset of a servant, and finally, Jesus didn’t get stuck on the shameful things that were happening to him. Hebrews 12: 2 says, Jesus did not regard the shame.

They stripped him of his rights and gave him a mock trial. They blindfolded him. Cursing him, they asked him to prophesy and say who was hitting him. They took his robe away and cast lots for it. Yet, he did not demand his rights. He did not hang his attention on their insults or accusations; he hung on the cross.  Naked and exposed, Jesus paid attention to the thief and remembered him. Jesus forgave his enemies. Jesus paid attention to his mother and entrusted her into another’s care. Jesus didn’t get hung up on anything but the cross.

We live in a Facebook world where we are deluged with regarding the shame and the things others do to us. We constantly exert our rights and how we should be served and then we wonder why there is not more joy and satisfaction in our living. Perhaps, we are being called to follow Jesus and see how he did things, and then act accordingly.

crown of thornsTo realize the full effect of Jesus’ passion on the cross into our lives, the Apostle Paul lays out a precise and complete process for us to follow in Ephesians, chapter 5. I want to summarize that path in three movements of grace.

The first movement is the move to become a full Partaker of God’s love. “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

The second movement is faithfully Pruning those practices and pursuits that block the free and faithful flow of God’s passion displayed on the cross in us. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them.”

The third movement is then to be living Proof of what is acceptable to God. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth).”

The Apostle goes on to say it is shameful even to mention little less practice the things ‘by grace through faith’ we have pruned or are pruning from our lives. But, above all I want to caution you about trying to work this process out backwards. What do I mean? Don’t start with trying to prove your way of living is right or how your style of life is already acceptable to God. The truth is not a single life is acceptable to God apart from the “offering and sacrifice” Jesus makes of himself on the cross. Do not persist in trying to minimize your own or another person’s need for mercy or repentance. The end result will be a minimizing of the effect God’s love can have on you and them.

Reverse this process and we will not prune out practices and persistent points of our personality that stand in conflict to the grace of God; we will instead seek to justify them. Reverse this process and we will end up seeking to make God an imitator of us instead of us imitating God, as dearly loved children are called to do.

This reversal already has a deep and wide following in our culture. How else could you take a day that is meant to honor a saint of the church and turn it into a day of liquor and license? How could we have come to the place where we suspend our support for an event because it doesn’t include enough immorality? How could we diminish the sufferings of Christ to say it need only apply to a few?

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

CB Christmas TreeI was watching a Charlie Brown Christmas on TV the other night and realized how important it is to choose the right tree.

In the beginning, God chose for us to be free and to reinforce and define that freedom, God supplied one restriction, one rule to govern the expression of Adam’s faith. “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’.”

In the last days, we must choose the freedom chosen for us in creation. How do we do this? We do this by observing the one rule for living in Romans 10: 8 – 11. But, to do that we must once again consider a tree to supply the one, overriding guide for the expression of our faith and life. It is a tree set in the midst of two thieves and temporarily planted in the place they called The Skull, Golgotha. It a tree of execution both for Christ and for us. As we fix our eyes upon the light of this tree and eat of its fruit, it will kill our bondage to sin, bring us forgiveness, and establish a new life of freedom for us in the Spirit.

How do we express our choice to be free? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Have you chosen the right tree?crosses3

Maybe you have one on your local radio station.  People call in and say what they need or what they have to offer others.  A phone number or point of contact is given.  Hopefully, in the space and time that follows the call a transaction can be made that benefits both sides.

What is God’s trading post?  It is the cross.  It is in the cross the call is made.  “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12: 32) It is now your call.  Can you be honest that you need life – not an existence – but, something more than breathing.  Then a transaction can be made that benefits both sides.

You “by grace through faith” can receive the gift of God: eternal life, God’s kind of life, the Holy Spirit living in you.  God can receive the joy “over one sinner that repents.”  A win-win can be had by both sides.

Go ahead.  Have faith in God.  This transaction is the reason for which we have faith.  Our ways can be traded for God’s ways, our will for his.  Our spiritual deadness due to our transgressions and sins can be traded for the life that is in Christ Jesus the Lord.